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Booking Your Perfect Flight With Google Flights

written by: Chris Hoffman•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 10/14/2011

Unlike traditional flight search engines, Google Flights gives you instantaneous results. You can search for flights and filter them instantly, without waiting for pages to load. It is integrated into Google search and also available on its own web page.

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    Searching for Flights

    Using the Google Flights map to search for flights. 

    You can start a Google Flight search by entering “Flights from Boston to New York" in Google and clicking “Flights" at the left side of the search results. You can also bring up the Google Flights map and search engine by going to Google.com/Flights in your web browser.

    Google flights automatically fills in your closest airport and offers a list of popular flight destinations for you to choose from. You can select a different starting city in the From box at the top of the map if you like, and then select a destination in the To box to get started. You can also click a destination on the map. Google Flights displays the price of tickets to each destination airport on the map, allowing you to pick out cheap vacation spots.

    If you want to select a specific airport near either city, click the down arrow to the right of either city’s name and select an airport from the list.

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    Date and Time

    Specifying dates and finding the lowest airfare. 

    Once you have selected your origin and destination cities, you will have to tell Google Flights when you want to fly. Use the Depart and Return boxes to select departure and return dates for your flights.

    If your dates are flexible, you can click the Calendar button to the right of the Depart and Return boxes. Google Flights shows you a list of fares. Hover your mouse over the smallest bars on the graph to view information about the cheapest flights. If your selected dates appear as a more expensive, large bar, you might want to reexamine your trip dates.

    You can also drag the handles on the calendar to modify your dates and trip length and see instantly updated trip quotes.

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    Limits

    Limiting flight prices and durations with Google Flights. 

    You can limit the price and duration of the displayed flights using the Price and Duration boxes near the top of the page. Click the arrows near each box to increase or decrease the acceptable price and duration for the flights.

    Click the Limits button to the right of the Price and Duration boxes to view a graph of your filters. The highlighted blue dots in the box represent flights that are displayed due to your current settings. You can adjust how many flights are displayed using the Price or Duration boxes. You can also click and drag the Duration and Price options on the graph to adjust the filters on the graph.

    If you don’t want to filter by price or duration, you can click the X button inside either box to reset the filter.

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    Narrowing Your Search

    Narrowing and filtering available flights in Google's flight search engine. 

    After selecting your airports and dates, you can narrow down your search further. Using the links at the left side of the page, you can filter by your desired number of stops, preferred airline and ideal connection city. If you need to leave at a specific time of day on your departure or arrival dates, you can specify that time by clicking either of the Specific Time links under Any Outbound Time or Any Return Time in the sidebar.

    Each selection you make further narrows down the list of flights presented to you at the bottom of the page. If you don’t see many flights after narrowing your search, try broadening it and looking at the list of available flights.

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    Choosing a Flight

    Specifying the number of travelers and booking a flight. 

    When you are done searching for flights, you can view all available flights that match your criteria at the bottom of the page. Google Flights displays the takeoff and arrival times, duration, airline, transfers and round-trip price for each available flight. You can sort the flights by one of these criteria by clicking the one of the headings above the list. Google Flights sorts flights from earliest takeoff time to latest takeoff time by default.

    Once you have selected a flight, you can click the price column under Round Trip for that flight. Google Flights displays a list of available return flights under your selected flight. Click the price in the Total column for your desired return trip flight.

    Google Flights displays information about each flight. After reviewing the information to make sure you are satisfied, you can click the Book button to book the flight. Use the arrows that appear to select the number of travelers, then click the name of the airline. Google Flights sends you to the airline’s website, where you can complete your purchase.

    If you are looking for alternatives to Google Flights, you can check out our list of other popular flight search engines.

References

  • MSNBC: Google Flights Lumbers Down the Runway; http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/09/14/7762188-google-flights-lumbers-down-the-runway
  • Screenshots provided by the writer
  • Google: Flight Search Help; http://www.google.com/support/flights/